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What Causes Low Self-Esteem?

How can I improve my stress management skills?

Have you been asking: What causes low self-esteem? It is a fact of life that high self-esteem is a factor in personal, academic and career success. We look at the factors which contribute to low self-esteem.

Origins of Low Self Esteem

Our sense of self-worth develops over time, starting when we’re young. The people in our lives – teachers, friends, siblings and parents – and things like the media can influence how we see ourselves.

The negative message of not being good enough is, unfortunately, the one that resonates with you deeply. It could be because meeting others’ expectations or even your own is tough.

Excessive stress negatively impacts self-esteem, like an extreme illness or a loved one’s death. Some of us naturally think more pessimistically than others, and some people have impossibly high expectations for themselves.

Poor self-esteem and quality of life

A lousy self-image doesn’t always feel great and can hold you back in different areas of your life.

Negativity: When you constantly criticize yourself, it’s only human to start believing those things – leading to negative feelings like sadness, depression, anxiety and shame.

Problems in Relationships: Relationship issues typically arise from a lack of self-confidence; someone may feel like they must put up with a poor treatment to receive love or are undeserving of affection and become hostile toward others.

Fear of trying: The person may feel inadequate or have insufficient skills, so they avoid challenging situations.

Perfectionism: People who identify as perfectionists often work tirelessly to make up for what they believe are their shortcomings.

Fear of judgement: The fear of judgement from others may cause a person to shy away from activities that would put them close to others, like sports or social events.

Seek validation of others: This feeling of unease is due to the stress and self-consciousness around being evaluated by others. To validate this pre-existing belief, the individual looks for ‘signs’ if someone doesn’t enjoy their company.

Lack of resiliance: People with low resilience will find it harder to power through challenging circumstances because they believe they’re ‘doomed’ from the start.

Self harm: The person may not care for themselves, which can result in neglect or abuse and lead to drinking too much alcohol.

Can low self-esteem lead to mental health problems?

Although low self-esteem and mental health problems are not necessarily the same, they can be closely linked.

Some signs of low self-esteem may suggest another, more significant issue. This is especially true if the adverse effects last long or prevent you from living normally. For example:

  • Negative self-image, feeling inadequate and hopeless.
  • Feeling guilty
  • Concerns about not being able to perform activities
  • It can be difficult to have high self-esteem when facing mental health issues.

Furthermore, taking steps to build your self-esteem may feel even more daunting if you cope with a mental health problem.

Contributing Factors to Low Self-Esteem

1. Disapproval from Authority Figures

Being constantly criticized as a child could make it hard to feel good about yourself later. It’s tough to have confidence if you feel like no matter what you did, someone was there to tell you that you failed.

The humiliation of “failing” can stick with somebody for a long time and cause immense pain.

2. Lack of Parental Motivation

If the people who raised you discounted your accomplishments, it’s tough to be ambitious.

This routine often makes you feel unimportant, unnoticed, and irrelevant. Often, we believe that nobody cares about us because of thoughts or experiences from our past. If we feel unappreciated, it’s easy to think we should apologize for living.

3. Fighting Parents

When parents or caregivers fight, children learn to mistrust and feel negative emotions from the situations they have seen modelled for them.

It can be scary and overwhelming for children to see their caregiver behaving this way. If you are constantly exposed to conflict between caregivers, it can cause feelings of responsibility or guilt.

4. Bullying

Children who feel supported by a responsive, safe, and aware family after Bullying have a better chance of recovering and salvaging their self-esteem.

If you feel unsafe in your home and the torture continues outside, it can feel as if you’re lost, abandoned, hopeless, and filled with self-loathing.

When you view yourself as damaged, it can feel like anyone who becomes your friend is doing you a favour.

5. Over-Supportive Parents and Bullying

If your parents always had your back, you might need more preparation for life outside the house. It can be challenging to build up resilience if you don’t learn early on how to manage failures and challenges.

From this Shame perspective, feeling ill-prepared and deeply ashamed to admit a secret about yourself is natural.

You might not want to tell your parents because they would be understandably pained by the experience. So instead of sharing what happened, you hide it away deep within. But shame also clouds your judgement and makes it difficult to see things as they are.

6. Uninvolved Parents and Bullying

If you never felt essential to your caregivers and were constantly bullied by others, it’s not hard to see why you might feel worthless. It can be very tough carrying around the shame and pain of feeling like the world is unsafe.

7. Academic Challenges without Support

Being uninformed can feel embarrassing and scary. If you felt like you were lost in school, not comprehending the material as your classmates moved ahead, it might have made you think something was wrong with you.

8. Traumatic Events

Being physically, sexually, or emotionally abused causes severe damage to self-esteem. When you’re forced into a position against your will, it’s hard to trust anyone–including yourself.

And when it wasn’t even your fault in the first place, it can be challenging to come out of that low self-esteem rut.

9. Negaitive Belief Systems

It can be challenging if you’re constantly feeling like you’re sinning because of your religious beliefs.

It may remind you of living with a parent who always disapproves of everything you do. If the people you look up to judge you constantly, it will likely make you feel ashamed of yourself and guilty. You’ll also start to conflict with your own beliefs.

10. Media and Social Surroundings.

It’s no closely guarded secret that prominent people in the media often present an idealized image of themselves that doesn’t reflect reality.

Children are continuously barraged with images of flawless people and lifestyles via social media, leading to overwhelming feelings of inadequacy.


We hope this article was able to answer your questions about: What causes low self-esteem?

If you want to discover more information about improving self-esteem, follow the link to our other pages on this topic.